This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 13th (it will be out in January 2020), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

You can download an iPhone app for the 13th edition from the App Store (search for Weeks Population).

If you are a user of my textbook and would like to suggest a blog post idea, please email me at:

Sunday, July 10, 2016

World Population Day 2016

The 11th of July has been World Population Day since 1989, declared so by the United Nations Population Fund. It has also been the anniversary of this blog since 2010, declared so by me! In 2010 the theme was about censuses, as I noted back then. This year the theme is about empowering young women.

In just those six years since I started this blog, the world has added 503 million people--going from 6.9 billion to 7.4 billion. The total fertility rate has dropped from 2.56 to 2.51, so that's good news, and life expectancy at birth for both men and women is estimated to have increased by 1.6 years--up to 72.7 for women and 68.3 for men. Since the birth rate has dropped at a slightly faster pace than the death rate, the overall rate of growth is now slower than it was back then. But even at what seems like a very slow pace of growth of 1.13 percent per year, we are adding 84 million people per year to the planet! We just can't keep doing this.

In line with the news from yesterday about the outlawing of child marriage in Gambia and Tanzania, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has elaborated on the theme that allowing girls to become socially and economic productive members of society instead of just child brides and mothers is a key to a better global future. They make the point out that there are more young people in the world today than ever before in human history (see the graph below), and nine out of every ten of those young persons lives in a developing country. In many of these countries children are vulnerable simply because they are girls. They are exploited sexually, and shuffled into child marriage and early pregnancy. The improvement of these girls' lives will signal an improvement in the world as a whole, and offers hope for dealing with this ever growing population on a planet with limited resources.

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